BUILDING MINISTERS’ FORUM COMMUNIQUE

The Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) met today in Sydney to discuss a range of issues facing the building and construction sector. Ministers also met with industry representatives and discussed matters including professional indemnity insurance and implementation of the Building Confidence report.

Building Ministers agreed to a national approach to the implementation of the Building Confidence report. It was noted that many issues are historical and will continue to be addressed as the need arises. However, Ministers acknowledged the issues of the past won’t cripple the future of the sector and, to that end, Ministers committed to work together to build a stronger building and construction sector in Australia.

Building Ministers will strengthen the Australian Building Codes Board

The strategic plan of the Australian Building Codes Board will be recast to better reflect the current challenges in the building sector.

The Australian Building Codes Board will be expanded to include greater representation and engagement from industry.

States and territories retain responsibility for building and construction matters

The Commonwealth will continue to help facilitate on the clear understanding that the states and territories have powers and responsibilities to regulate building matters. States and territories will take responsibility for their individual paths to remediation and rectification.

All jurisdictions support a national framework to address the issues identified in the Shergold Weir Building Confidence Report

To achieve this an implementation team will be established, for a period of time, as part of the Australian Building Codes Board. The implementation team will be tasked with developing and publicly reporting on a national framework for the consistent implementation of recommendations of the Shergold Weir Building Confidence report, as well as the design, construction and certification of complex buildings.

Industry are invited to contribute to the development of the framework through in-kind secondments to the implementation team.

The national framework will be responsive to the most efficient mechanism to achieve the desired outcome and will result in amendments to the National Construction Code (NCC) and/or the development of other guidance as required.

Adoption of the framework and ultimate implementation of the Building Confidence report recommendations will remain the responsibility of the state and territory governments.

States and territories will work towards a coordinated approach to professional indemnity insurance

To achieve this a professional indemnity options paper, developed in collaboration between New South Wales and Queensland, will be released for targeted consultation with insurers and the building industry. The options paper will set out a pathway for professional standards schemes and alternative insurance options. Outcomes of consultation will be reported back to the Building Ministers’ Forum by September 2019.

The building ministers called on insurers to meet their existing obligations and lift their exclusions on professional indemnity insurance following this strong action by states and territories.

Silicosis

Building Ministers noted their continuing concern about the re-emergence of the illness of silicosis and the devastating impact that this disease has on sufferers and their families. Ministers agreed to support the work being pursued by the COAG Health Council and Work, Health and Safety Ministers to reduce and respond to instances of silicosis.

ACT Builder Licensing Exams

Ministers noted the work of the ACT in introducing examinations for Builders’ Licenses, and agreed that the Commonwealth would seek information from Australian Skills Quality Authority on planned audits of building and construction qualifications, the potential to include these in the ASQA’s work plan, expediting this where necessary and will invite ASQA to the next meeting of the BMF to report on this.

Technical specification for permanent labelling of Aluminium Composite Panels

Ministers also welcomed the release of a consultation paper by Standards Australia on a technical specification for permanent labelling of aluminium composite panels (ACPs).

Energy efficiency

Ministers also agreed to the development of enhanced energy efficiency provisions for residential buildings in the National Construction Code, informed by the COAG Energy Council’s trajectory for low energy buildings. The ABCB will shortly release a paper for public consultation on options for implementing these provisions in the NCC.

NCC out-of-cycle amendment

The BMF signalled their intent to undertake an out-of-cycle amendment to the NCC to introduce enhanced fire safety measures for early childhood centres in high-rise buildings. These changes will be progressed in coming months through a public Regulatory Impact Assessment.

Next BMF meeting

The BMF will meet again in December 2019.\

BMF Industry Roundtable

INDUSTRY GROUPS CALL FOR URGENT AUSTRALIA-WIDE ACTION ON BUILDING REGULATION

 

 

 

 

Background

Australia’s fragmented approach to regulatory enforcement and compliance with building regulations requires a renewed commitment to national action to maintain public confidence in our built environment. The concerns of the signatories are characterised by the following:

  • Australian and international insurers are introducing strict cladding-related exclusions in mandatory professional indemnity insurance products for building practitioners in the building supply
  • The discovery of major defects in buildings has significantly reduced the ability of those building owners to find an insurer willing to accept the
  • State and territory governments have not taken a consistent and comprehensive approach to undertaking and completing audits of existing high-rise buildings with combustible cladding, nor developed a remediation
  • Governments are taking an inconsistent and fragmented approach to implementing reforms described in the Shergold-Weir report, which was released 18 months

Though some action has been taken to amend the National Construction Code (NCC) and effectively eliminate the use of many types of combustible cladding on new building facades, the response of state and territory governments to dealing with cladding on existing buildings has been patchy and inconsistent.

The building, construction, property and insurance industries have continued their calls for state and territory governments to adopt a consistent and best practice regulatory response to the challenges presented by combustible cladding.

Positive action has been taken in some jurisdictions, however other states are lagging and the continued inconsistency in the approach across governments is manifesting in the crisis confronting building practitioners in the building supply chain. This has led to significant increases in professional indemnity premiums and a reduction in cover via exclusions on combustible cladding and non-conforming building products.

Building surveyors, engineers and architects are now struggling to obtain the insurance they need to do their job, which in turn could seriously affect future building or construction activity.

Consumers, building owners, building practitioners and their insurers need certainty and confidence in building regulation. Building and construction, when combined with the property sector, is the nation’s largest industry, provides the most full-time jobs and is a vital engine of economic growth. The economy must not be put at risk by the failure to provide certainty through a consistent approach in dealing with these issues.

The entire building and construction supply chain risks being further impacted by this continued uncertainty, and industry participants want to work cooperatively with governments to rebuild that confidence.

We urge the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments to work together in providing certainty through a uniform national approach to dealing with these matters.

What needs to be done
As organisations representing the building, construction, property and insurance industries, we urge the Federal Government to play a leadership role and bring together all state and territory governments to:

  1. Develop and implement a consistent and best practice Australia-wide response for risk assessment and a rectification strategy for existing buildings with combustible cladding with an agreed timetable that reflects the urgency of the issue. This will reduce confusion, clarify the scale of the challenge and support a viable professional indemnity insurance market that provides the coverage needed by industry participants and building
  2. Establish a joint government-industry task force to oversee urgent and consistent implementation of all Shergold-Weir report recommendations across all

 

Signed:
Property Council of Australia
Insurance Council of Australia
Ai Group
Australian Construction Industry Forum
Master Builders Australia

Media contacts:
Ai Group: Tony Melville 0419 190 347
Insurance Council of Australia: Campbell Fuller 0407 170 500
Master Builders Australia: Ben Carter 0447 775 507
Property Council of Australia: Matt Francis 0467 777 220
Australian Construction Industry Forum: Stella McKinney 0423 663 544

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO BAN COMBUSTIBLE CLADDING

Media Release

Minister for Housing and Public Works
Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Combustible cladding is set to be completely banned on all new Queensland buildings, following industry support for proposed new regulations that were discussed at yesterday’s Ministerial Construction Council.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni proposed the new regulation as part of a two-pronged approach to provide a lifeline to the State’s certifiers caught up in a shrinking insurance market.

The combustible cladding ban would extend to all aluminium composite panels with a PE core of greater than 30 per cent, and it would restrict usage across all buildings in Queensland.

Mr de Brenni said the proposals would help to protect Queenslanders, but called on the Commonwealth Government to protect Australians and introduce an importation ban on all aluminium composite panels with a PE core.

“I’ve made numerous calls on the Commonwealth to ban this combustible cladding at the border, they can’t keep dodging this responsibility to the people of Australia,” Mr de Brenni said.

“This is an opportunity to both reduce risk and back Australian manufacturing jobs, to which Prime Minister Scott Morrison should be jumping at the chance.

“And again, I call on Minister Karen Andrews to urgently address the issue at a national level, as the retraction of the insurance market has to be rectified by the Federal Treasury.”

The proposals discussed at yesterday’s meeting include also requiring certifiers to declare that combustible cladding hasn’t been used, and that there hasn’t been any product substitution during the construction process.

The other key solution to help certifiers proposed by the Queensland Government during the industry meeting, was to allow certifiers to remain licensed while they are holding professional indemnity (PI) insurance featuring cladding related exclusions.

Mr de Brenni said the ban on combustible cladding paved the way for the Queensland Government to allow certifiers to hold PI insurance with exclusions.

“By banning combustible cladding on new construction in Queensland, it means there doesn’t need to be an expense for certifiers in the form of exclusion free insurance,” Mr de Brenni said.

“However, allowing insurance with exclusions is a time-limited solution that provides the industry with immediate confidence to continue operating.

“These proposals are designed to ensure that jobs growth in Queensland doesn’t slow and construction industry practitioners continue to remain in the industry.

“We’ve already seen insurers attempting to cut and run from the market by withdrawing their insurance products and that means they escape their obligations, and that’s not on.

“This has put at risk hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector and it’s got the potential to impact homeowners who would be left holding the can if they have to pursue litigation with dodgy buildings.

“Certifiers provide a level of protection for homeowners and we need to keep them in the industry.

“It means that as of today, the 400 licensed certifiers in Queensland will continue to be able to work tomorrow, and that means our record on job creation will continue, however subject to stringent conditions.

“The restrictions are part of the immediate term resolution of the issues to be followed by a suite of longer term system reform approaches including continuing to pursue a national ban on the importation of dodgy cladding.

“Prime Minister Morrison has a chance here to help rebuild confidence in the industry and back in local manufacturing jobs by banning dodgy cladding that fails community standards, but in the meantime we will have to impose extra requirements on the sector.”

Yesterday’s proposals followed a number of weeks’ discussion with industry leaders on solutions to the certifier insurance issue.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report released by the Palaszczuk Government yesterday shines a light on the effects caused by the deregulation of the Australian construction industry.

“Building industry professionals, from architects, to engineers and building certifiers, plus developers, play a pivotal role in ensuring that the built environment is safe and fit-for-purpose.”

Mr de Brenni said PwC’s analysis showed the issue was not limited to Queensland, but a national issue affecting the building industry in all states and territories.

“Queensland has continued to work with industry on this issue,” he said. “I am committed to ensuring the viability of Queensland’s building and construction industry and am invested in ensuring the most appropriate and considered approach is taken to this situation.

“Queensland has led the way on behalf of the Building Ministers’ Forum for permanent labelling of aluminium composite panels, reducing the issues found through investigations around product substitution.

“But whilst Queensland leads the nation with building industry reforms, there is still more work to be done.”

 

ENDS

Media contact Rosie Gilbert 0466 834 330

“The Government will now consider the in-depth recommendations before deciding on the next steps.”

NEW BUILDING WEBSITE TO IMPROVE CONSUMER AND INDUSTRY AWARENESS

Media Release

 

Gordon Ramsay MLA
Attorney-General
Minister for the Arts and Cultural Events
Minister for Building Quality Improvement
Minister for Business and Regulatory Services
Minister for Seniors and Veterans

 

The ACT Government has today launched a new website designed to raise awareness and provide educational outcomes about consumer and industry requirements in the ACT construction sector.

The launch of the website comes as the Government continues its commitment to reform the building industry by making it easier for consumers and businesses to access important information.

Importantly, the website details what is required of builders, developers and consumers when considering what is required to build, buy or renovate in the ACT.

Additionally, the website has easy to access links detailing dispute resolution processes for consumers, as well as other important information like the disciplinary register and a register of licensed practitioners.

Minister for Building Quality Improvement Gordon Ramsay encouraged consumers to thoroughly investigate the work history of who they were choosing to hire when they were building a new home, or who has built a property they were considering purchasing.

“Canberrans should expect that their housing is safe and of an appropriate standard. Our city is growing fast, and we need to have building work that meets both ACT and National standards,” Minister Ramsay said.

“We want a community that is empowered, where people have all the information they need and understand their rights and responsibilities when embarking on a purchase or renovation project.

“To assist Canberrans in finding out about all things ‘building’ we have created a one-stop website for consumers and industry members to find out the relevant policy and regulation that applies in the ACT.

“If you are looking for a builder – we have made it even easier to search for a licensed professional via our database as well as make an enquiry or lodge a complaint if necessary.”

Minister Ramsay said information on the website would continue to be enhanced and resources added over the coming months, including videos and other user-friendly resources.

For more information visit: www.act.gov.au/buildbuyrenovate

Media contact: Anton Gallacher          T (02) 6207 3795      M 0422 574108      anton.gallacher@act.gov.au

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INACTION AFTER GRENFELL TOWER TRAGEDY PUTS QLD AT RISK

Minister for Housing and Public Works, Minister for Digital Technology and Minister for Sport
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

Media Release

Federal Government Inaction After Grenfell Tower Tragedy Puts Queenslanders At Risk

Two years on from the Grenfell Tower inferno in London, the global aftershocks are pushing Queensland’s building industry into an insurance crisis.

To protect the community and stabilise the building industry, the Queensland Government is considering ending the use of provisions that have allowed combustible cladding on buildings over three storeys.

Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni has called an urgent extraordinary meeting of his Ministerial Construction Council (MCC) to discuss a range of measures to stop construction works in Queensland from grinding to a standstill.

“The Queensland building and construction industry employs 230,000 Queenslanders and unrectified combustible cladding poses a risk to tradies and Queenslanders where they live and work.

“For too long “creative solutions”, including performance solutions, that allow combustible cladding to be installed on high-rise buildings have been permeating the industry and the State’s built environment.

“Due to the Morrison Government’s inaction we’ve got to the point where combustible cladding is causing insurance companies to exit the market and crank up their charges to certifiers,” he said.

“We’ve had reports of some insurance premiums increasing by thousands of dollars, some by up to 226 per cent more than the previous year.

‘Our certifiers keep the building industry ticking and the Palaszczuk Government will not see Queenslanders out of work due to federal inaction on this issue.

“The era of “bendable rules” must finish. Complacency and the misuse of performance-based solutions has seen buildings in Australia clad in solid petrol,” Mr de Brenni said. “I think Queenslanders would want us to simply outlaw that practice if it will remove the risk of a cladding disaster and stabilise our vital building industry.”

Banning performance solutions is a move which has already been introduced by the West Australian government, and local industry reports that it is an approach that is working well.

“Queensland may join WA in departing from key elements of the Canberra-developed building code.

“The National Construction Code was a good idea but has become a vehicle for reckless industry practises and deregulation by stealth.

“It’s all very well for the Federal Government to claim a failing by the states but when the rule book is so loose and open to interpretation, then the Commonwealth must tighten those rules or realise the state governments will have to deal with the unacceptable ambiguities.

“Our priority has to be about people, profits have taken centre stage in this sector for too long,” Mr de Brenni said.

“It’s just as important that we support Queensland’s $45 billion building and construction industry and keep it operating sustainably and safely and this means keeping certifiers in business.”

Mr de Brenni said the insurance crisis for certifiers has been triggered by the insurance industry reacting to the combustible cladding scandal.

“The Federal Government has failed to ban the importation of dodgy combustible cladding despite the risks it presents, so the State Government will be ensuring the Queensland community is protected.

“Some industry groups have been calling for the government to allow certifiers to approve buildings without adequate professional indemnity insurance.

“If this means allowing insurance policy with exclusions then the only way I think this would be satisfactory to the public would be if we removed the ability to use high-risk products on high-rise buildings. This means banning the use of performance solutions or alternative methods of compliance to the law.”

A raft of recommendations from an independent PricewaterhouseCoopers report into the insurance issue will be considered at the MCC meeting on Tuesday 18 June 2019, along with other measures including:

  • Changing licensing rules for certifiers to allow them to practice with exclusion in their mandatory profession indemnity insurance.
  • the creation of a national professional standards body for certifiers, much like that which exists for lawyers, solicitors, architects, and engineers;
  • expediting a permanent labelling system for Aluminium Composite Panels in Australia to prevent substitution;
  • and establishing a model to indemnify certifiers who are involved in combustible cladding rectification or remediation work on buildings.

PRE-FAB INNOVATION LAB FOR BUILDING INDUSTRY

The Hon Karen Andrews MP
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology
Federal Member for McPherson

MEDIA RELEASE

 

PRE-FAB INNOVATION LAB FOR BUILDING INDUSTRY

The Morrison Government is backing Australia’s manufacturing and building and construction sectors, with support for the prefabricated building industry.

Up to $2 million will be spent developing a new collaborative lab to help manufacturers design innovative new prefabricated buildings that are more eco-friendly, affordable and can significantly reduce times for construction.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said the new lab would support work on a wide range of buildings, including tiny houses, larger homes and offices and strengthen Australia’s position in the global prefabricated building market.

“This sector is starting to build significant momentum and currently represents 3-5 per cent of Australia’s $150 billion construction industry,” Minister Andrews said.

“This share could grow to 15 per cent by 2025, creating 20,000 new Australian jobs and adding $30 billion to our economy.

“The Morrison Government is committed to helping support and grow this emerging industry and ensure Australia seizes this opportunity.”

The prefabricated modular building industry includes modular houses and offices created in a factory setting and then transported directly to site.

To kick-start this new project, the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre will receive up to $2 million in funding to undertake a feasibility study and, based on the findings, establish a collaborative innovation lab.

The Coalition is already supporting leading research in this area, announcing $4 million in funding to the Australian Research Council Training Centre for Advanced Manufacturing of Prefabricated Housing.

The Morrison Government is committed to Australia’s advanced manufacturing sector, as part of our plan to grow the economy and create 1.25 million new jobs over the next five years.

Media Contact: Valeria Cheglov 0438 494 351 / Keegan Buzza 0447 697 846 Office of the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Member for McPherson, Varsity Lakes, QLD

LET’S TALK MEN’S HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

Canberra construction workers and employers this morning discussed the health needs of men over a healthy burrito breakfast as part of Men’s Health Week.

Sadly, 93% of workplace deaths are men. Men suffer from more lifestyle-related health conditions and are less likely to seek medical advice. We often take a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude to our health.

Making small lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on men’s lives as individuals and in our workplaces.

Healthier Work and the OzHelp Foundation, who helped organise today’s breakfast, can help employers develop health and wellbeing initiatives that support workers making healthy lifestyle changes.

A preventiative arm of WorkSafe ACT, Healthier Work is a free service available to ACT businesses. It currently supports 75 local workplaces to develop and implement health and wellbeing programs.

The ACT Government is proud to fund the important work of the OzHelp Foundation, which is helping men in hard to reach industries like construction. The Foundation builds the capacity of workplaces to recognise and respond to mental illness and suicide risk.

Businesses that invest in the wellbeing of their workers beyond just meeting their work health and safety obligations can benefit from reduced rates of injury and illness, increased productivity, improved staff retention and, importantly, happier workers.

2019 ACT PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE IN BUILDING AWARDS RESULTS

2019 ACT BUILDING PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR

Team Leader: Warren Fenwick MAIB
Company: Hindmarsh Construction Australia
Project: Building 145
Category: Commercial Constructions $25 million to $50 million

The judges stated that this project manager demonstrated tremendous leadership and professionalism in delivering a high quality project to his client. Warren has continued to build on his considerable experience by planning, managing and executing a complex project in the center of a busy University campus. Whether it was budget pressures, existing services infrastructure, site access, hazardous materials remediation, subcontractor management, façade installation or the preservation of a 50-year-old sculpture, Warren was able to lead the project to a successful outcome. His capacity to manage a range of stakeholder interests while proactively resolving several design, cost and construct ability issues is a benchmark for aspiring building professionals.

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

Team Leader: Warren Fenwick
Company: Hindmarsh Construction Australia
Project: Building 145
Category: Commercial Constructions $25 million to $50 million

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

Team Leader: Peter Henden FAIB
Company: Cercol Construction Services Pty Ltd
Project: Towns Crescent Rectification Works
Category: Other

HIGH COMMENDATION

Team Leader: Andrew Curran AMAIB
Company: Shaw Building Group Pty Ltd
Project: Refurbishment/Extension of Fred Ward Gardens Aged Care Facility, Curtin
Category: Interior Construction

HIGH COMMENDATION

Team Leader: Jack Turnbull AMAIB
Company: Capcorp Constructions
Project: John McGrath Maserati
Category: Commercial Constructions $1 million to $25 million

HIGH COMMENDATION

Team Leader: Ron Jedrzejek
Company: Shaw Building Group Pty Ltd
Project: The Canberra Hospital Hydraulic Infrastructure Renewal
Category: Infrastructure

ACIF FORECASTS THE OUTLOOK FOR CONSTRUCTION IS ‘STEADY AS SHE GOES’

The latest industry forecasts indicate that building and construction work activity in 2018-19 will fall by 5% to $239 billion. The outlook for building and construction activity will be finely balanced, with the current uptick in Non-Residential Building activity combined with surging Engineering Construction activity expected to largely offset the downturn in Residential Building activity.

“The recent upturn in Non-Residential Building has offset falls in Residential Building activity. While this has been quite important in sustaining workflow, it must be recognised that Non-Residential Building activity will not be enough by itself to offset the declines in Residential Building activity.” said Bob Richardson, Chair of ACIF’s Construction Forecasting Council, which oversees the production of the ACIF Forecasts.

Residential Building Activity

Residential Building activity is already in decline with a contraction of 1.5% is expected this year (2018-19), bringing the value of work done to $103 billion. Recent falls in house prices and deteriorating market conditions are expected to drive steeper falls in Residential Building activity with the value of building work projected to fall to $91 billion by 2020-21.

Building and Construction Work Done ($ billion)

Non-Residential Building Activity

In contrast to the Residential Building market, Non-Residential Building is midway through a growth phase, with the value of work rising by 11% last year (2017-18) to reach $42 billion. Expanded investment in accommodation, offices, and other commercial buildings has buoyed Non- Residential Building activity. Government and public sector investment are also supporting growth especially in education, defence and community facility projects.

Engineering Construction Activity

Work done in Engineering Construction grew by 21% last year to reach $67 billion. Continued strong growth is forecast, raising work done to $76 billion in 2020-21. Significant and sustained increases in construction of transport infrastructure and in utilities projects is underway and gathering momentum. Heavy industry including mining is expected to see a reduction of $11 billion in the value of work done this year but is forecast to recover and grow at 6-8% per annum over the next two years.

Building and Construction Employment

Employment in building and construction activities is expected to lose 29,000 jobs this year, falling to 1.1 million jobs. This accounts for 9.2% of expected employment across the Australian economy in 2018-19. Construction employment is projected to hover around 1.15 million jobs over the next three-to-four year period, reflecting expectations that workers displaced from the cyclical downturn in Residential Building activity will be largely soaked up through burgeoning Engineering Construction activity and continuation of the upturn in Non- Residential Building activity.

Industry Outlook

Although the downturn in the residential market may spill over into the rest of the economy reducing consumer confidence, eroding already fragile investment intentions, and dragging down growth – the level of total building and construction work is projected to stabilise and hover around $240 billion a year over the next two-to-three years.

About Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF)

Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) is the trusted voice of the Australian construction industry. ACIF facilitates and supports an active dialogue between key players in residential and non-residential building, and engineering construction, other industry groups, and government agencies. ACIF’s focus is on innovation, collaboration, equity and sustainability for the industry.

ACIF Members are among the most significant associations in the industry, spanning the entire asset creation process from feasibility through design, cost planning, construction, building and management. ACIF harnesses the resources of its Members to research and develop initiatives that benefit businesses of all sizes, from the largest of construction companies to small consultancies. More information on ACIF is available from www.acif.com.au.

About ACIF Forecasts

ACIF Forecasts are rolling ten-year forecasts of demand across residential, non-residential and engineering construction in Australia. The Forecasts are prepared by respected economic modellers, using high quality data sources, and are overseen by ACIF’s Construction Forecasting Council, an industry panel of expert analysts and researchers.

ACIF Forecasts are used by thousands of professionals each year, from across the full range of stakeholders, from major organisations to small consultancies. ACIF Forecasts are available as the Australian Construction Market Report and detailed numbers are available by subscribing to the Customised Forecasts Dashboard. More information about ACIF is available from www.acif.com.au.

The ACIF Forecasts are available from Australian Construction Industry Forum from today. Available in two formats: Australian Construction Market Report, a 100-page expert analysis on the economy and industry sectors ($300), plus the Customised Forecasts Dashboard ($250), an online portal where users can query the full ACIF Forecasts database on 20 work types, over a twenty year period. As an industry not-for-profit, ACIF produces this information to assist businesses and governments at all three levels navigate the rapidly changing marketplace and help them plan for the future. Find out more at www.acif.com.au/forecasts.

MORRISON GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE AUSTRALIAN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY FORUM

A fair and balanced workplace relations system is the foundation of a strong economy and higher living standards for all Australians. We know that the key to better workplaces lies in workplace relations policies that support job creation, business growth and the rule of law.

 

The Morrison Government through re-calibrating workplace laws to support these areas has created over 1.2 million more jobs, and reduced the number of days lost to industrial action by 40 per cent.

Now is not the time to change direction. We need to stay the course to create 1.25 million more jobs over the next five years, including 250,000 jobs for young Australians, support more businesses to start and grow, and to uphold the rule of law in workplaces.

The Morrison Government has restored the rule of law to workplaces through reforms that encourage cooperation and workplace-level negotiation to ensure both workers and employers can build and benefit from a stronger economy.

There is more work to do to ensure this record of job creation and more cooperative workplaces continue. Now is not the time to turn the clock back to the 1970s and put Australia on strike.

The achievements of the Morrison Government to ensure productive and fair workplace relations include:

  • re-establishing the Australian Building and Construction Commission, to ensure small contractors and subbies can access our third largest industry without fear of intimidation, bullying and unaffordable cost imposts;
  • abolishing the never-ending award review process that created uncertainty while sapping a disproportionate amount of time and money from small business;
  • ensuring union bosses are held to the same standards as company directors by establishing the Registered Organisations Commission; and
  • ending the ‘strike first, talk later’ approach to industrial relations, instead requiring that protected industrial action can only be taken once negotiations on an enterprise agreement have begun.

Bill Shorten’s Labor wants to scrap the ABCC and the ROC, legalise industry-wide strikes for the first time ever, allow unions to veto free trade agreements and allow politicians to set minimum pay rates. They want to give union bosses the upper hand in workplace negotiations by banning employers from terminating expired enterprise agreements and forcing employers to compulsory arbitration.

Their policies would stifle business, risk jobs and cause disruption across Australia. When it comes to industrial relations, the choice could not be clearer.

Commitment by state and federal governments to implement the recommendations of the Shergold-Weir Report by February 2021.

On 13 March 2019, the Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) published a joint implementation plan responding to the recommendations of the Building Confidence report by Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir.

The plan sets out reforms both planned and underway in each jurisdiction. States and territories have agreed that wherever possible jurisdictions will adopt reforms consistent with those in place or proposed in other jurisdictions.

While the BMF has given in-principle agreement to all recommendations in the report, the immediate focus will be on reforms to the integrity and transparency of building certification processes. The BMF will initially focus efforts on exploring a consistent approach to the registration and training of practitioners and the responsibilities of design practitioners.

Support for the Building Information Modelling Strategy of Australasian BIM Advisory Board.

Along with re-establishing the ABCC, the Coalition introduced a new function for the Federal Safety Commissioner (FSC) to audit compliance with National Construction Code (NCC) performance requirements in relation to building materials.

Under the changes, compliance with the NCC is now a condition of accreditation by the FSC. Accredited companies therefore face losing access to Commonwealth funded building work if they fail to comply with performance specifications of building materials under the NCC.

The Australian Building & Construction Commission to be retained.

Getting paid on time for work done is fundamental to all businesses, including the many subcontractors who make up our construction industry. The Morrison Government is committed to improving protections for individuals and small businesses who subcontract in the building and construction industry, and to achieving greater consistency in security of payment laws across Australia.

We have re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) which enforces the security of payment requirements in the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016. Under the code, contractors that have tendered for Commonwealth-funded building work must adhere to state and territory security of payment laws.

They must pay their subcontractors on time and not unreasonably withhold payment, otherwise they risk being excluded from Commonwealth funded building work for up to twelve months. This important work would be undone if Labor were to be elected, given its plans to abolish the ABCC and the Building Code.

The implementation of an effective regime to be established to minimise the use of non- conforming building products.

The Commonwealth does not have constitutional power to regulate buildings.

The Morrison Government is committed to working with state and territory counterparts to restore public confidence in Australia’s built environment.

The National Construction Code has always restricted the use of combustible cladding on high-rise buildings, and prior to fire incidents in recent years, the Commonwealth, states and territories had no reason to believe that building practitioners were not complying with the NCC.

The inappropriate use of cladding is an issue of non-compliance with the NCC and state and territory building regulations. Enforcement of these rules is the responsibility of state and territory governments.

Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) actions on cladding

The prevention of the inappropriate use of aluminium composite panels (ACPs) has been a key area of focus for the BMF.

The BMF expedited the implementation of a comprehensive package of measures by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB), to prevent non-compliant use of wall cladding on high- rise buildings.

The out-of-cycle amendments to the NCC include:

  • a more rigorous testing standard for determining the fire safety of external wall assemblies (AS 5113:2016);
  • introduction of a new Verification Method to demonstrate compliance with the existing fire safety Performance Requirements;
  • increased stringency for the sprinkler protection of balconies on residential buildings; and
  • stricter compliance documentation requirements in the NCC’s evidence of suitability provisions.

State Ministers agreed in October 2017 to use their powers to prohibit the inappropriate use of these products on buildings of more than three storeys.

At their February 2019 meeting Ministers agreed to expand this to a total ban in new construction subject to an impact assessment.

A number of other significant reforms continue to be progressed by the BMF, including:

  • development of a Technical Standard for permanent labelling of aluminium composite cladding products (etched or printed), ahead of development of an Australian Standard, to prevent unsuitable product substitution
  • the Building Regulators’ Forum working with fire authorities on the best method of making information available to assist them to respond to buildings with ACPs, and
  • overseeing the cladding audits and reviews being undertaken across

The BMF is also considering ways to address the cost of cladding rectification works, and has given in-principle support that building practitioners should owe a duty of care to building owners (and subsequent building owners) for residential construction work and certain commercial construction or small business.

Further, I received the following response from Pauline Hanson’s parliamentary advisor:

Thank you for your letter of 4 April and the enclosed brochure outlining ACIF’s policy priorities.  Senator Hanson has asked me to respond on her behalf that she is supportive of these and certainly that the Australian Building and Construction Commission be retained.  Together with other One Nation Senators she will do what she can to ensure this happens.